My No-BS Guide to Food Prep

It’s time to get real about food prep. Not that I have been lying to you before (I always give it to ya straight) but I wanted to compile a no-BS list about my weekly activity.

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My food prep routine is relatively simple and similar every week. I change up what I prep (and therefore eat) based on five things: what’s in season, what’s available that is organic/free-range/grass-fed/antibiotic free (all that good stuff), what’s local, what’s on sale and what I feel like eating. Check out this post detailing my food prep routine (aka what I make, how I make it and how I store it).

I should probably define what food prep is, just in case: spend a bunch of time in the kitchen making food in advance. That’s it. But it works. Trust. Food prep saves you time during your busy week by having things ready to go; it saves you money by not eating out and by budgeting your groceries; and it’s pretty accepted that you if you have good food ready in the fridge, you’ll eat good food.

So let’s get to it.

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1. Food prep is basically a cooler way of saying leftovers. Fact. I’ve let you in on this little “secret” before but it’s true. You will be eating similar meals and leftovers so embrace it. It’s inevitable. By making a bunch of food in advance, you are obviously going to have a bunch of the same food. I focus on preparing ingredients (vegetables, fruit and protein) and one or two big-batch-meals each week. By focusing on ingredients rather than meals, you can change things up. Get creative and use your ingredients in different ways to make different combinations and change up the spices and flavors. If I have 4 chicken breasts prepped – I’m going to be eating chicken for four meals but they will all be different: in a salad with strawberries, hemp seeds and nuts; or in a stir fry with broccoli, spaghetti squash and peanut sauce; or in an omelette with kale and salsa; or mashed up with avocado on cauliflower rice… use that noggin!  

Ingredients ideas: shredded chicken, roasted veggies, spaghetti squash, hard boiled eggs, baked sweet potatotomato saucemeatballs, grilled chicken (Click for recipes)

“Big-batch-meal” ideas: baked falafel, meat saucefrittata, chicken bites, apple chicken burgers, salmon sweet potato cakes, bean & sweet potato stew (Click for recipes)

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2. Food prep for one gets boring. I shop, cook and eat for one. Duh you know this. I can only buy so many things, otherwise they will go bad. Of course I wish I could buy a bunch of different veggies every week but that’s just not realistic. Deal with it. Don’t waste food. Save money. It’s just a week – you can buy that beloved rutabaga next week. The more mouths you have to feed, the more exciting your food prep becomes because you can buy more. That’s basically why a boyfriend would be handy in my life: for food prep. Nothing more.  

3. Prep food you like to eat and won’t get sick of (for at least a few days). We have established you are going to be eating “leftovers” and that you can’t buy a billion different things: so make sure you like what you are going to see in the fridge. I like hard boiled eggs. I love sweet potatoes. So I prep them. Don’t prep two heads of broccoli if you hate broccoli. At the same time: don’t prep a batch of cookies if you are trying to curb your sugar cravings.

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4. At first, you will spend hours in the kitchen. I am pretty sure I’d be in the kitchen for close to six hours when I was first figuring out this food prep stuff. I was chopping, stirring, washing, mixing, baking, cooking… I was doing anything and everything but I was highly inefficient. Now I have a routine (and wrote a whole post explaining it). I often split up my food prep: I’ll do veggies and my proteins on Saturday, then I’ll do one or two big batch meals on Sunday. When I’m on my A-game, I get everything done in less than two hours total. Try, try and try again. It will take foreverrrrr at first but it will change: you’ll figure it out and figure out what works for you and ultimately find your food prep groove (yeah, it’s a thing).

5. Your kitchen will be a mess. This won’t change. Sure you might get better at cleaning as you go but things will be everywhere. I “reserve” a time to be in the Little Honey Bee kitchen my parent’s kitchen to get my prep done because I create a disaster zone. Cutting boards, knives, food processor, pans, pots, tupperware (lots of tupperware) and the odd bits of veggies and egg shells. Breathe. Clean. It will get done.

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6. Your fridge will be taken over by Tupperware. Embrace it. I also reserve my own section of the fridge for my food. It seems to be expanding every so often… thanks guys. 

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7. People will think you’re weird/crazy/nuts until they try it themselves. Food prep haters – there are plenty of them. They make fun of our tupperware and that every meal is the same. Tupperware is a fabulous invention and we’ve already established that every meal is most definitely not the same. I’ve “caught” my mom pre-chopping her veggies for the week. Lesley called her out on it and mom said: “It actually is smart. I kinda like it.” Heck yes! Go mom. Haters gonna hate.

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It’s tiring, far from glamorous and sometimes I dread it – but I know that my cooking life is far easier, more relaxed and much healthier when I have delicious food prepped.

So that’s it: no-BS, real talk.

Do your food prep – trust, you’ll thank me later. Let’s get started this weekend and while we’re at it, launch The Little Honey Bee hashtag – yes, I’m “launching” a hashtag and I need your help!

The next time you food prep (ahem, this weekend) or you eat dinner for breakfast or chow down on a hard boiled egg or put avocado on anything and everything or have a love affair with sweet potato or make a Little Honey Bee recipe… anything that has a little bit of Honey Bee flair…. pleeeeeeease Tweet, Instagram, Facebook and use this awesome hashtag created by Kim.

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Because I made you do it right?

Have an awesome weekend!

 

Questions of the day…

Did I miss any of the other “truths” about food prep?

What are some of your strategies?

 

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22 thoughts on “My No-BS Guide to Food Prep

  1. That’s basically why a boyfriend would be handy in my life: for food prep. Nothing more. YES hahah. I’ve thought this same thing so many times. But then I remember their usefulness for one more thing, playing with my hair while I lay/sit next to them.

    I haven’t food prepped as much lately except for maybe cooking some chicken but that’s because I’m #jobless and have time to make meals. Lol. Actually not lol’ing but I know that once I do get a job I’ll definitely need to prep.

  2. I can totally relate to the hours spent in the kitchen and mess that food prepping can make- but I will continue to do it every week! I don’t know if having someone else to cook for necessarily makes things easier. For one, if my husband tries to step foot in the kitchen while I am food prepping he usually gets yelled at and told that now he needs to help wash dishes (he thinks my food prep time is insane…and then I ask him what he would eat every day if I didn’t do that:)). Its also harder to make sure that we both like everything that I plan to make. Plus I need to coordinate our schedules- like if we are both going to get home late one night I need to make sure I plan a meal that will come together quickly.
    This weekend I am planning to try a new approach: I am going to go to the farmers market on Saturday, then based on what I get there decide what I can prep/cook next week, and then do my other grocery shopping on Sunday followed by my food prep. I feel like me weekends are getting taken over by this stuff!:)

    1. Sounds like an awesome strategy! Hope it works out for you – let me know on Monday :) (yes it sometimes takes away from weekend fun)

  3. Such an awesome post Amy! Food prep is something I’ve been trying to get better at and with two little ones on the way, I’m most definitely going to need to get it down to a science, especially when time will be at its most precious.

  4. You literally took the words out of my mouth. Definitely spent like 5 hours in the kitchen the first couple weeks of prepping. I had it down to a routine, but I am thinking this weekend in the new kitchen might be back to a few more hours until I get a new thing going. Goal: to make one of your meals JUST so I can use your hashtag. Yep. I’m your number one fan, duh. LOVE YOU #NuttyHoneyRunners

  5. I totally relate to the mounds of dishes all over the place. Sometimes I’ll call my husband in for backup if I’m in the middle of something and no longer have anywhere to put the dirty dishes. It’s important to have a wingman!

  6. Oh the joys of food prep! It’s not fun, it’s not quick and it’s messy, but you’re right in that it is worth it, it’s cheaper and it gets easier in time. I wish I was as creative as you though. I need to adopt you chicken four ways plan so that I don’t get tired eating the same thing after two days. Great post, thanks.

  7. That hashtag!! love it!

    Food prep used to take me hours, but now I think i have the hang on what I do and don’t prep ahead of time as well as the same consistent meals. :)

  8. You are freakin’ amazing. I’m still trying to figure it out, and I blame my weird work hours…I don’t necessarily NEED to prep, but it would obviously give me more time for other things during the week. Plus. No weekends off for me, unless I ask for them. Maybe I’ll tackle my food prep game more seriously when I have a “real job” – in the mean time, I should probably find that job…

  9. Thanks for posting this, Amy! You are a boss at food prep. Thanks for keeping it real by saying it’s a fancy way to say “leftovers”.

    1. I definitely find myself buying the same veggies a lot. I am looking into starting a farm box where you get a box of random veggies each week! I would suggest focusing on buying new things and picking one new recipe to try every week or so. And get the kiddies involved! They can help wash things for sure

  10. OMG that hashtag is awesome :) So cute! I haven’t really been food prepping much lately, as long as I have lots of fresh food in the fridge I seem to make it work day to day. I do prep each night for the day ahead though – and I think I have about 18 Tupperware containers in my bag right now….annnnd I feel ya on the disaster zone food prepping!! I’m the same way. Another great post, keep it up!

  11. hahahaha this a great post! And it’s so true… it makes the week so easy and yes everyone stares! I’ve gotten comments about not eating the school lunch, they talk as I heat up mah food but they eventually get it.

    ps…I love prepping for myself.. prepping for 2 tastes sometimes gets a little tricky.. I’m a little jealous lady!

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